Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Giyo- Giyo

This past week was high lighted with our marathon! All week we rested by swimming and laying in the hot tube at our pool. We ate a lot of pasta and fruit, and went to bed early. We didn't have to work on Friday or Saturday, so on Halloween day we took the train to Toroko Gorge which is on the other side of Taiwan. We met up at the hotel with our friends and training budies Dave and Jen. After a quick swim and eating a huge dinner buffet, we were off to bed early to wake up for the marathon. The marathon started at 7 am. The first part was a 3 K out of the gorge just to turn around and start the climb up through the gorge. The weather was perfect, light rain to start and cool climate the whole time. The gorge was extremely beautiful with waterfalls and mountain top temples. A few times I almost ran off the road because of the views. Allie and I ran together for about 15 miles till I had to take a bathroom break. From then on we were alone to run our own race. The turn around point was right out by our hotel, there was a small part of me that just wanted to run into the hotel, put my bathing suit on, grab a beer and sit in the pool and call it a day. But we both had a great time and I was feeling really strong, so I kept pushing on. I was waiting for me to hit the wall around mile 20 like my last marathon, but it never happened, don't get me wrong I was drainned and barley could keep running but with everyone yelling Giyo-Giyo and giving me the thumbs up and even one guy that I talked to before the race pyshically pushing from behind to keep running and not to walk , so I kept running. Giyo (not spelled even close) means in chinese to go, go, go even when you got to the gas station to tell the guy to fill up your tank you say Giyo, which means fill my go tank (not gas tank). It is a cool word that we just don't have in our English language. From the last 5 K point Allie and I felt that is was the worst, becuase they had a countdown for you to know excatly how much further you had to run. I swear I saw the 3 K mark twice (but that was the start of my delirium). Allie of course ran a great run, not her personal best time but running up a mountain to turn around and run down besides a flat course it was a great time 3:48 minutes. To let you know how hard the course was Allie finished 10th overall for the women (this race was big over 6,500 people ran it). She was beat by a profestional runner from Japan and a profestional Kenyan runner. She finish about 40 minutes behind the leader which is awesome! She won 5,000 NT which after taxes 4,000NT comes to about 125 US dollars. I finished 3:58 minutes (with a bathroom break I want to add) which was I think in the top 200 of the men, not as impressive as Allie but I broke my goal of 4 hours goal and beat my best time which I will not mention because it was pretty slow for me. When I finish I have to say I was really mad and quite delirious. All I wanted was water and maybe a sports drink, which you had to walk about 50 feet which at that point seemed very far. There you get a free lunch box (package lunch of rice, chicken, and some vegetables), bottle of water, and a box of sports drink. I wanted nothing to do with the lunch but they insisted to give me one, so I through it down on the ground and started stabbing my juice box with one chop stick thinking it was the straw. Finally I figured that out and used my straw which went too far and fell in the box, so I went cave man and squeezed it all over my face and in my mouth. I did get a few wierd looks after that but I felt a lot better. After Dave and Jen got back back we rested and went back to the hotel, where we bought a few beers and laid out by the pool. We had free entrance to the spa that night which we thoroughly enjoyed laying in the hot tubs and suana and then of course eating our faces off at the buffet again. We called it an early night since we could all barely move. The next morning we were up early to catch the 8 am train back to Taichung. I think this will probably be the most beautiful run we will ever run in our entire lives, it was breathtaking.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hot Springs and Culture

This past weekend Jay and I went on a Hash House Harriers excursion to a place called Bailaoi, which is about 4 hours south of Taichung and in the beautiful rugged mountains. It happened to be the 10th anniversary of the Taichung Hash. So we had been looking forward to this for a while. I of course had trouble convincing my job to let me have the Saturday off, keep in mind I only teach one 2hour class in the morning and they couldn't seem to feasibly find a sub for those little two hours, so being the good employee that I am I came into work and found another hasher who had a car to drive me down later, while Jay went down on the bus early in the morning. We arrived at a very remote place with tons of hot springs. It was amazing. Unfortunately I arrived too late to make the first run on Sat. but Jay was able to enjoy a treacherous two hour mountain run. That evening we indulged ourselves in traditional Taiwanese food and beer as we all relaxed around in the hot springs. Jay and I stayed with most of our friends at another foreigners house/hostel by the river. It was beautiful to wake up to clean air and the sound of the water. The next morning we all got ready for another run which was an A to B run and ended at another hot spring. It was a very hard mountain run that included climbing directly up about three waterfalls and climbing multiple mountains. It was a fairly short one but had beautiful scenery. We enjoyed more natural springs afterwards and then headed for the long journey home. A lot of our fellow hashers found out this weekend that we are leaving fairly soon and it was very sad to see their reaction. They must actually enjoy us.... because they were very upset that we were leaving. But it is so great that we have made such good friends here. I think they are definitely the people we enjoy the most and will miss the most. We have had a lot of great times with them. I think they might even miss us more than our work but who knows. Unfortunately this entire weekend I did not take pictures and I anxiously await the pictures that other took and I will put them up as soon as I receive them.

This week Jay and I went to dentist for the first time and for the both of us it cost a total of $6, pretty amazing huh? I have never been so excited to go the dentist before. And lucky for us we both came out with clean teeth and no cavities. I think Jay and I are both pretty lucky we have never had one cavity between the two of us. I plan on keeping it that way. As for other news we just are waiting with anticipation for our marathon in one week... very nerve racking. For those of you who don't know about it. The length of a marathon is 26.2 miles of 42 kilometers. And this particular race is in the Toroko National Gorge which is the main tourist attraction in Taiwan and Jay and I haven't experienced it yet. And I still am not sure if we have picked the most pleasant way to do so, but I definitely think we will see all of it, in its entirety.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Beauty of Taiwan

Last weekend we had a great weekend of somethings different. Of course we still had to go to our hash run, but something new about it was a run through the city and also a pool BBQ at the end. We ran in places that Allie and I have never been. Most of it was through the old section of the city where there was less traffic and cool side streets. It was really hot that day so it was nice to be able to jump into a cold pool even with a swim cap. After swimming around and cooling off for a while we had a pot luck cook out. Everyone brought something different from guacamole to fried noodles. The meat was brought by a hasher that works at a restaurant so we had baby back ribs, German sausage, and real marinated steaks. Needless to say I ate way to much and Allie was hurting a little too. We already had plans to meet some of our co-teachers (Chinese teachers) at a local bar where we had a really good time. It was really nice to hang out with them since we are going home soon. It is going to be sad when we leave because we have made a lot of really good friend and are really enjoying the life that we have made here.

The next week was short, we had Friday and Saturday off for Double Tenth Day which is the equivalent to Taiwan's independence day even though a lot of the world don't recognize it as a seperate country from China. We left at 12 midnight on Thursday night with 4 other friends, one South African (Lauren), one Australian (Brian). and two from Boston area (Jon and Nick). We were off to Orchid Island also known as Lanyu. It is south east of Taiwan. We left late at night and had an intense journey down to Kenting to take the ferry, which left at 8 the next morning. The journey consisted of waiting at Mos Burger for 3 hours in the middle of the night for our ride, then taking a very cramped van to the port, and then taking a 2 hour boat ride (which was one of the roughest rides ever, with people throwing up all around us). Finally we were there and the beauty alone was worth the hassel. It was amazing, very green and volcanic, it reminded me a lot of what the Hawaiian islands look like. The island also had a lot of goats, they were everywhere and very cute. Since we had the entire day on Friday we all rented scooters and then went to our campsite. Which was in the middle of a schools track. And it was perfect. Close to the water and nice comfortable grass to set our tent in. We went swimming to the beach for a while and then took a scooter trip around the island which is about 50km long so we did about half. We drove a very steep road to the weather center on top of the highest mountain and enjoyed a beautiful view. That night we met some other people camping and decieded to raid the only local supermarket for all the pork and some fish that they had so that we could have a campfire on the beach. It was awesome..people from all over the island ended up coming for a good feast and relaxing. Unfortunately we were all very exhausted from basically not sleeping well for the past 36 hours and we headed to bed at about 9 pm. Jay and I woke up early the next morning for a run. Then we all rented snorkeling equipment and enjoyed the coral. THe current is really strong around the island and we couldn't venture out too far otherwise we would have a difficult time swimming back to shore. Brian decieded to go out a little far and we couldn't see him... eventually we spotted him far out and looking as though he was having a difficult time getting back. Jay went out to help since he is a good swimmer and on the way he spotted a manoray....which is somewhat like a stingray. I was so jealous... ButI guess that was his reward for going to help out Brian. We enjoyed another scooter trip to the other side of the island and watched the sunset. We ate dinner at a very cute restuarant called the Epicurean and it was amazing with very good food. We had another early night and the next morning we had one more quick snorkle and went back on the ferry home. When we arrived in Kenting after the ferry, we had arranged a driver to pick us up..it turned out to be the taxi ride from hell. He seemed to pop a beatle nut in every 20 minutes and he never spit. He was driving like a mad man mainly whizing by cars in the scooter lane most of the time. People were rolling down their windows screaming at him. I felt as if I was in a Formula One race... and I didn't feel like we were winning. Anyways it was an amazing time and really recommend it. Taiwan is really beautiful in some places. This gave us the boost we need to make our final stretch to the end.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Suit up in our rain gear...time for a run

This past weekend Taiwan had their fourth typhoon of the year to hit (Super Typhoon Jangmi)This typhoon was being called the strongest one of the year. Allie and I did get to enjoy some free time with some nice weather on Saturday it was a beautiful day, see when typhoons come the day before it is a lot cooler and really clear. So we walked around the city enjoying a nice dinner at an outside restaurant, and a nice glass of wine. Sunday morning we woke up really early to meet some friends for a run. Since we need to get some long runs in we had to beat the typhoon, so 5 am we were up and riding the scooter. The wind was whipping around and we were decked out in our rain gear scooting to the run start. We ran a 30 k or for our American measurements little over 18 miles. It was raining just enough to keep us cool, it was on a nice bike trail and was really enjoyable(besides running for three hours). We rain out 15 k and back. Later that afternoon the typhoon really hit, and hit harder than the other ones. The wind was really strong, it blew a lot of trees down and made a mess of the city. We even had part of our roof ripped off. There is a inner skylight blocked off by windows so luckily the rain isn't really coming into our apartment. The good thing about the typhoon being so strong is that it was gone by the next morning. We still didn't have classes on Monday because of the typhoon so we took the scooter out in the rain and took some pictures of the city. We didn't adventure too far. Some of the things we saw, were signs flying down the road, lines of scooters knocked over because of the wind, trees and powerlines down, flooding in the streets. One lady was waiting at a stop light on her scooter with a child on her back and then a gust of wond came and knocked her off her scooter. Very crazy. The rain has stuck around and it has been one of those rainy days where we just sit inside. Except for us we really get cabin fever, so we have cleaned our apartment and went through all of our receipts to see if we have won anything. There is a lottery in Taiwan, that uses receipt numbers for winning numbers. So we saved our receipts and looked through about a hundred or so to check their numbers, we have never won anything but this time we won about 400 Taiwan dollars..... or 12 US dollars. Not that exciting when you think of it that way, but that is a good dinner for two here. I hope you enjoy the pictures of the typhoon.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Trip to Taipei

This past weekend we finally got out of Taichung, it has felt like it has been awhile. We went up to Taipei to visit our friend Daniel, and to do something new. We got up there Saturday just in time for dinner, which we went to a hole in the wall restuarant that made really good Mexican food. This was an amazing thing to find all the way in Taiwan. Taiwan's version of Mexican food that we have came across before consistes of Doritos with cheese melted on top with a microwave. So the night started off with some great food and ended with a relaxing drinks at a sofa bar called "Sofa". Sunday brought some more exciting events. We headed north to the coastal town right outside of Taipei., Danshui. This is a retreat of most city dwelers looking for a carnival atmosphere. We were just looking for some icecream because of the heat was just melting us. Allie and Daniel found some green tea and strawberry icecream that was almost the same hight as Taipei 101. After a long day of walking and eating Allie and I left Daniel for our long trip back to Taichung. We almost made it a block until we were stopped by a strange parade. It was led by a man lighting paper in the middle of the street and swerling a large stick around almost knocking people off their scooters.

We are trying to run everyday and get ready for our marathon in November. We have alittle more than a month left. Running in Taichung is harder than we thought since it gets about 90 by 9:00 am, and the traffic is bussier than normal earlier than that. Plus Taichung's air quality is the worst in Taiwan, but if we can train and run in this than Hualien should be no problem.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Category 4 Typhoon

Well this past weekend was supposed to be our half marathon, unfortunately Taiwan was hit by a major typhhon later Friday night which resulted in school being cancelled on Saturday and our race cancelled on Sunday.... which we were really bummed about. BUT we still made the most of our weekend. We didn't let torrential rains and hurricane force winds stop us from going to the hash run on Saturday afternoon. As Jay and I are both standing at a fellow hashers house on top of a mountain overlooking Taichung I was thinking to myself this is a little insane, as the trees were whipping around, branches flying off and the rain stinging our bodies. Yet we set off for our run and it was awesome. We really enjoyed ourselved and it really beat sitting inside and just observing the typhoon. We were submerged in it. The run was about a 10k and it consisted of getting lost, running through a pith black tunnel for 10 minutes with rushing water. Luckily they had set up a few teeky torches (sp) . It was a wonderful view at the top where you could see nothing because of so much rain and the huge typhoon that lingered over the city for about 2 and half days. Jay came is first for the men and I came in first for the women, which is always nice. We found out later that the typhoon was so strong that it actually had two eyes. I didn't know that could happen. Anyways after the run we had a wonderful BBQ with fajitas (which is unheard of in Taiwan...they don't understand Mexican food) refried beans, salsa (what a novelty item). It was great. We sat around with good people and as usual Jay and I were the target of lots of jokes and fun dobs. Well Sunday we took it easy because the rains almost seemed worse than the day before. WE attempted to go for a run... BUt as soon as we got outside we realized that wasn't happening. Sunday was also Moon Festival in Taiwan...where families will have BBQ and watch the moon... because it is a full moon. But there was a typhoon so seeing the moon was not going to happen. But somehow people still stood outside with their umbrellas having BBQs. This week we purchased some new running stuff so hopefully that will keep us motivated to run more so we literally don't die during our marathon. Things are good and we are really enjoying ourselves. Hope you keep reading. (So you see the little island north west of the typhoon..that is Taiwan... kind of overpowers us huh?)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Going with the flow as usual.

Well lots of time has past and it is running down to the end of our Taiwan adventures. Sorry we have been so slack with the blog. There just hasn't been too many exciting things happening... The next couple of months will be different. But right now we have just been trying to work a lot and make lots of money for our trip to Thailand. Jay was a sub for a kindergarten class for 3 weeks and his kids were so cute. I think he would be a great elementary teacher and lately we have been discussing what he would like to do when we go back to the States. Maybe get his teaching certificate. But life has been good. We have been pathetically trying to train for a marathon that we are doing in November and this weekend we have a half marathon that help us see where we stand in our training. Typhoon season is still underway just as hurricane season is on your side of the world. We are expecting one in a day and you can already feel the winds when you drive your scooter. We have some good things that are coming up that we are excited about. We will be going to Orchid Island in the beginning of October for a long weekend. It is a small island south east of Taiwan.. where hopefully we can do some scuba diving. Septmeber is pretty stagnant for us and we can't wait till October rolls around. Oh the other day Jay and I went to gym like we always do and for the entire year I keep asking Jay to weigh himself just out of curiousity and finally he did last week and it was shocking. He was lost around a total of 20 pounds since he has been here. THe funny thing is we both didn't really even notice. But he is in really good shape so don't worry he definately eats a lot. I can't really say the same for me I am actaully a little jealous... I can't seem to loose more than a pound or 2. Well other than training for our race we are just working and trying to spend as much time with the people we really became close to and like here before we head back to the real world. I think Jay and I are both a little worried about the transition back home.... I know we will be excited to see family and friends but we have come to really like this lifestyle who knows how long we will last in the real world of North Carolina. Well again sorry for such a delay and I will try not to let that happen again. I promise I will have a report after our half marathon this weekend.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dress to impress in a Red Dress

Ni Hao..... Hello ...Well two weeks have gone by..... last weekend we accomplished another hash... and I would have to say it was the best one Jay and I have done. It was about an hour north of Taichung and we ran for about 2 hours..... But the fun thing was. Is that it included jumping of a small rock face into water and then proceeding to swim through a very narrow gorge with now way out but to swim through. It was great and both Jay and I were the first people in. Jay has been trying to be the first one for a while. So he was really happy especially on a pretty strenuous hash. Last week Jay started to teach a kindergarten class last week and he will be doing in for a month. He seems to really be enjoying it... I think that is partly because he is somewhat still a kindergartener himself. CLasses are going well. Here are some pictures of one of my classes and the performance. We did a little play called the Caterpillars Voice.... and they were all different animals.... so very cute.

THis past weekend we had another hash but it was a little different. We had a red dress run and I will explain some.... It started later and it was more of a pub crawl. We had to all dress in red dresses , yes including the men so I have good pictures of Jay in his mini skirt.... What is frusterating I think he wears a size smaller than I do.... that little booty of his. We had a blast.... Enjoying new places to eat and drink and looking a fool running around Taichung. I felt like I was in a parade. We enjoyed some accoustic music at the end of the run....This are going well. And we are reallyy excited about the last 3 and a half months here in Taiwan. We are really enjoying ourselved and trying to pack lots in that we haven't seen or done yet. We have been enoying watching the Olympics a lot just as most of you have. Although the sports that are most televised here are badminton, table tennis, and taekwondo. But I still enjoy watching them all. Me and Jay have definately decieded to go to Vancouver for the winter olympics in 2 years and London in 4....... Zia Jian...... See you later

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Reverse Culture Shock

Last week I had the pleasure of going back to the United States for a a very short week for my best friends wedding. I started of the trip in a frenzy waking up late and having to rush to the airport but not really rushing back because my journey took about 20 + hours. I flew to Tokyo and then Atlanta where Atlanta proceeded to loose my bags. My first culture shock was when I looked around the Atalanta airport and I find that about 70% of a all Americans seem to be overweight. It was shocking and depressing. How can we all look so lazy and overweight? The rest of the world doesn't seem to do this to themselves. THat was frusterating. Then off to Charlotte for a fun night with ALL of Jays family. Even though I had been flying for excessive hours I felt like it was about 10 in the morning so I was full of energy and it was great seeing everyone and Julie had made some of her great meals for my arrival. Unfortunately my Charlotte visit was short and the next morning my parents came to pick me up. Luckily my sister Leslie and her husband Pete have just moved to Charlotte from Hong Kong. And I got to see my nephew Henry. so cute. Anyways me and the parentals drove up to Asheville and wow I forgot how much I love a cool breeze and fresh clean air. I loved sitting on the deck at their house laying in the hammock and trying to suck in as much good air as I could. Another interesting concept was driving, first of all driving a car was almost foreign to me but the main thing was I could drive for maybe 10 minutes and not see another car or see another person. I could drive in peace and quiet again another alien concept here in Taiwan. I enjoyed seeing my family and seeing friends. I took Anna rock climbing on Looking Glass Rock for her wedding present. It was awesome. And I really found a new love for rock climbing and I think I really want to take up that sport. It is so thrilling and satisfying, you feel such a great deal of accomplishment. I really recommend it to anyone. When Jay and I go to Thailand I know it is known for its amazing rock climbing I am definately adding that adventure to our itinerary. Friday before the wedding we had lunch and the rehersal dinner and then we proceeded to go back to Anna's parents house for some hot tub action and the last bacholorette night for Anna. Then wedding day came...we got the hair done and went to the Monte Vista for the festivities. Anna looked beautiful and it turned out to be a great wedding. I had to sing for it and was a little nervouse since I changed my song 3 times the previous week.... I finally decieded on Edwin McCain "I could not ask for more." I tried not to break down in tears in the middle. James and Anna are a beautiful couple and I had a great time dancing and seeing all my good friends at the wedding. UNfortunately I had to fly back the next morning at 7 am from Charlotte so I only got 2 hours of sleep before taking off on my journey back home to Taiwan. Luckily and surprisingly Jay met me in Taipei so I didn't have to make the 2 hour bus trip back to Taichung by myself. It was a good trip and it gave me the energy to really make the most our of the next 4 months before we really come home.